The season is underway for Wayne County softball teams, with scrimmage games last week and regular-season games starting this week.

Last season it was hard to determine which area team was superior. To illustrate the point, consider that Hagerstown defeated Richmond and Centerville to win the Richmond Invitational tournament and then lost to Centerville in regular-season play.

Cambridge City Lincoln won the Wayne County tournament by defeating Hagerstown and Northeastern and then lost to Hagerstown in regular season play. Northeastern beat Centerville twice and lost to Lincoln twice.  

This season may be similar. If there is a “best team” on paper it is probably Northeastern, but proving it on the field might be another matter.  

1A Cambridge City Lincoln

8-10 overall, 3-5 in Tri-Eastern Conference last season

Head coach: Mark Lunsford

The Lady Eagles will return eight players who possess varsity experience with senior Paige Lunsford the most notable among them. Lunsford led the team last year with a robust .550 batting average, collecting a team high of 33 hits while driving in a team-high 28 runs. Addyson Pitcock made a team high 74 plate appearances, scoring 24 runs and driving in 17 more. Lexi McPheeters collected 19 hits and drove in 18 runs. Returning lettermen Samantha Bell and Nevaeh Wharton collected 17 and 10 hits respectively.

Lunsford was also the number one pitching option for the Eagles, striking out 134 batters in 81 innings pitched and compiling a 7-6 win/loss record.

The Eagles will open regular season play on Thursday, March 28, when they host Franklin County, before traveling to South Dearborn on Saturday, March 30 for a round-robin tournament.

1A Seton Catholic — Will not field a team this season.

2A Hagerstown

8-13 overall, 5-3 in Tri-Eastern Conference play last season

Head coach: Bruce Charles

The Lady Tigers had an up-and-down season last year and will be looking for more consistency. The Tigers will return seven players from last year’s team and have added a sophomore and seven freshmen to their roster.

Senior Hannah Pyle led the team last season with a .387 batting average and 22 runs batted in. Pyle was also a key member of the pitching staff. Junior Rylan Young batted .348 and anchored the pitching staff, compiling a 6-5 record while striking out 132 batters in 97 innings.

Durable junior catcher Allison Stinson was a wall behind the plate and batted .357, scored 25 runs and drove in 24 more. Avery Bowen, Elly Cheeseman, Emily Hill, Emma Jarrett and Sydney Martindale each played in 17 or more games a year ago and were key contributors. 

The Tigers opened regular-season play on Tuesday, March 19, at Franklin County and will host Eastern Hancock in their home opener on Thursday, March 21.

2A Northeastern

14-12 overall, 5-3 in Tri-Eastern Conference play last season

Head coach: Tara Williams

First year head coach Tara Williams should be familiar with the rigors of competing in the Tri-Eastern Conference in softball. Williams was a two-time All-Conference player at Union County, and she is working to instill the same winning mentality at Northeastern.

Williams will have substantial talent returning for last year’s team.

Brooklynne Adams (.380), Clare Lopeman (.413), Emma Neeley (.350), Lillian Null (.358), Lexi Russell (.487), Bella Stoops (.394) and Addisyn Wright (.366) all batted .358 or higher last season, and the seven combined to collect 190 hits and drive in 112 runs.

Seven other players who played last season also return, including Nevaeh Chapman, who played in 25 games; Olivia Null, who played in 23 games; and Gracie Green, who played in 17 games.

Lopeman was the workhorse in the circle last season for the Knights, compiling a record of 8-8 in 17 appearances, including 14 complete games, and striking out 132 batters in 102 innings.  

The Lady Knights opened their season on Tuesday, March 19, by hosting Yorktown. Their next game is scheduled for Monday, April 1, when they will host Wapahani.

3A Centerville

12-10 overall, 6-2 in Tri-Eastern Conference play last season

Head coach: Brad Hobson  

The Lady Bulldogs were one of only two Wayne County programs with a winning record last season, and they return several key players.

Run production should not be a problem for the Bulldogs. Senior Drew Tubesing led the Bulldogs in batting average (.466) and hits (34), and drove in 17 runs. Jocelyn Collins batted .389, collected 28 hits and drove in 13 runs. Harmony Owens batted .395, collected 30 hits and drove in 12 runs. Lilly Day drove in 18 runs. Aubrey Alexander, Indian Berne, Collins, Anna Davis, Day, Shelby Life and Tubesing all played in at least 16 games last year and all return.

The Bulldogs’ pitcher is unknown..  

Centerville opens regular season play on Monday, April 1, when they host National Trail.

4A Richmond

4-18 overall, 2-1 in North Central Conference play last season.

Richmond High School has not yet made roster information available for 2024. The Lady Red Devils will open regular season play on Wednesday, March 27, with a game at East Central. Their home opener is scheduled for Thursday, March 29, when they will host Lawrence North.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 20 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.